Compelling Reason to Screen for Domestic Abuse
Written by: Leah Jeunnette, Ph.D.(c)
Statistics for domestic abuse reveal that it affects one in three women. It often goes unnoticed, unasked, or undetermined. Women are afraid or unsure of where to seek help. Women blame themselves; think they can prevent it, or stay to protect children. Some victims do not seek help in time. The ongoing debate is how do we identify domestic abuse. Prevention teaches everyone that you do not physically, emotionally, or verbally abuse anyone. There are other channels to release stress, anger or hurt. It is also important to help those currently facing domestic abuse as well find a way out.
One way to attempt to identify domestic abuse is to include it during a routine medical checkup. The physician should ask all women of childbearing age if there are victims of domestic abuse. It must be done in a considerate, non-judgmental manner.
Some physicians argue there is not a compelling reason to do this. Here are my compelling reasons: domestic abuse is not an individual problem. It is not a couple’s issues. It is a societal issue. If screening for domestic abuse saves one woman, then it is well worth the inclusion in routine medical checkups. It is not an invasive medical test. It is a physician getting to know the patient on a personal level. Physicians should take an extra five minutes to ask questions. Provide opportunity to seek help. The physician should let the patient know they their conversation is confidential and they are a resource for help.